- I’m a huge fan of Michelle Moran.
I also recommend:
- Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran
- Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn
Summary from GoodReads:
After the bloody French Revolution, Emperor Napoleon’s power is absolute. When Marie-Louise, the eighteen year old daughter of the King of Austria, is told that the Emperor has demanded her hand in marriage, her father presents her with a terrible choice: marry the cruel, capricious Napoleon, leaving the man she loves and her home forever, or say no, and plunge her country into war.
Marie-Louise knows what she must do, and she travels to France, determined to be a good wife despite Napoleon’s reputation. But lavish parties greet her in Paris, and at the extravagant French court, she finds many rivals for her husband’s affection, including Napoleon’s first wife, Joséphine, and his sister Pauline, the only woman as ambitious as the emperor himself. Beloved by some and infamous to many, Pauline is fiercely loyal to her brother. She is also convinced that Napoleon is destined to become the modern Pharaoh of Egypt. Indeed, her greatest hope is to rule alongside him as his queen—a brother-sister marriage just as the ancient Egyptian royals practiced. Determined to see this dream come to pass, Pauline embarks on a campaign to undermine the new empress and convince Napoleon to divorce Marie-Louise.
As Pauline’s insightful Haitian servant, Paul, watches these two women clash, he is torn between his love for Pauline and his sympathy for Marie-Louise. But there are greater concerns than Pauline’s jealousy plaguing the court of France. While Napoleon becomes increasingly desperate for an heir, the empire’s peace looks increasingly unstable. When war once again sweeps the continent and bloodshed threatens Marie-Louise’s family in Austria, the second Empress is forced to make choices that will determine her place in history—and change the course of her life.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Michelle Moran’s historical novels ever since picking up Nefertiti – and when I saw The Second Empress was being released I was thrilled. Why? Because with Madame Tussaud, Moran had my attention and I was ready to dive back into French history.
The Second Empress deals with Empress Marie-Louise, Napoleon Bonaparte’s second wife after his divorce from Josephine. What I appreciated about this book was that it was “historical-fiction-lite”; it was easy to read and fun to read without bogging me down with facts. The perfect Sunday evening past-time. Moran switches between three points of view: The Empress, Napoleon’s sister, Pauline, and her man-servant, Paul. Each point of view allowed the story to be well-rounded and, instead of being confusing, intensified my interest as it progressed.
That said, the drawback of a story written like this is it’s lack of historical accuracy. While Moran uses memoirs and letters for her inspiration, the historical accuracy of the story is not something I’d use when debating anyone with a wealth of knowledge about French history. It’s important to remember the “fiction” in the title of this book, and use it as a stepping board to finding out more of what really happened. I think it’s a fantastic place to start, and would have enjoyed it a little more if it were more challenging to read, but for budding historical fiction fans, I do not think you can start at a better place than with Moran’s novels
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- The publisher provided this review copy via NetGalley.
- Published by: Crown Publishing
- Release Date: 8/14/2012